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### Summary

### Summary

For decades, astronomers have sought to discover the ultimate fate of the univers. Will the cosmos continue forever in its expansion, which began billions of years ago with the big bang? Or will gravity someday reverse the process, producing a "big crunch?" Within the past few years, two rival groups of astronomers have announced a discovery that seems to resolve the issue: Instead of slowing down, the expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating . This finding has shaken the science of cosmology to its very foundation. This is the story of the astronomers who have stood the world of cosmology on its ear--and of their competitive race to discover the future of the cosmos. It is also an investigation into whether their remarkable findings will stand the test of time. If the new results are verified in the coming years, we will eventually find ourselves in a "runaway universe," in which every bit of matter is extremely far from its closest neighbor. Then the cosmological constant, which Einstein once rued as his "greatest blunder," will turn out to be one of his finest insights into the nature of space itself.A vivid picture of an unexpected turn of events, The Runaway Universe presents the startling new discovery that is revolutionizing our view of the cosmos.

### Reviews 4

### Booklist Review

Since Edwin Hubble discovered in the 1920s that the universe is expanding and that a galaxy's recessional velocity increases in proportion to its distance from the Milky Way, cosmologists have wondered how long the expansion will continue. The answer depends on the density of matter. If density sinks below a critical value, the answer is forever, a scenario fascinatingly imagined in The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin [BKL Ap 15 99]. Goldsmith, in an equally exciting explication, presents the refinements astronomers have made since Hubble's discoveries in measuring both the density and the expansion rate. He delves into the extraordinary proposition advanced in 1998 and 1999 by two groups of astronomers that the expansion rate is increasing. They concluded this because of improvements in estimating the billions-of-light-years distances to galaxies, using as rulers the brightness of supernovae that burst within them. Wrapping up the technical observational advances with Einstein's "cosmological constant," which can imply an increasing expansion rate, Goldsmith packages a story astro fans will open eagerly. --Gilbert Taylor

### Publisher's Weekly Review

It could be even bigger than we thought: not only is the universe expanding (as astronomers have long known) but its rate of expansion is increasing. Observations of supernovas in 1998, if accurate, show that the cosmos is spreading and dispersing. In a neat, up-to-date introduction to cosmology and astrophysics, prolific astronomy popularizer Goldsmith (The Astronomers; The Hunt for Life on Mars) explains how the universe might be "shaped" and why its sped-up growth is such a surprise. Einstein's theories introduced a number called the cosmological constant: if that number had a certain (below-zero) value, the universe would stay the same size. Recent models of the expanding universe set Einstein's constant at zero. Now it turns out the constant has a value above zero. On his way toward the new science of supernovae, Goldsmith covers Einstein and general relativity, telescope maestro Edwin Hubble and his rival Harlow Shapley, such 1980s quantum theorists as Alan Guth and the mysterious "dark matter" dispersed through intergalactic space. It turns out that "all the structure in the cosmos has grown from tiny fluctuations in the density of matter from place to place"; moreover, we live in a 10-billion-year window of cosmological history during which space is curved, but not too curved--earlier or later, life could never arise. Outlining these theories and discoveries, Goldsmith can sound like a stage magician: his new knowledge "will prove so amazing that your friends and family will doubt what you have to tell them." On the other hand, he's exceptionally good at explaining math in layperson's terms--a talent welcome in a complicated subject such as this. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

### Library Journal Review

The universe has been expanding ever since the Big Bang, but gravity is slowing its expansion over time. So held conventional astronomical wisdom until 1998, when two teams of researchers presented data indicating that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating under the influence of a mysterious antigravity force. How the scientists reached their astonishing conclusion, and how they might in turn be proved wrong, is the subject of this book. Goldsmith, an astronomer and science writer (Einstein's Greatest Blunder?), has received awards for popularizing astronomy. His text is well organized and at times witty. But this is one of his less accessible works; before settling down with it, readers would benefit from completing an undergraduate-level introductory astronomy course, and the math-shy will find it downright intimidating. Recommended for academic libraries.--Nancy Curtis, Univ. of Maine Lib., Orono (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

### Choice Review

In the second half of the 20th century, the working hypothesis of cosmologists was that we live in a universe that is expanding, but that the expansion is slowing. The expansion would eventually stop, and the universe might even begin to contract. Better observations, expected to be produced by the marvelous instruments being introduced, would allow measurement of the characteristics of the expansion, and thus a prediction of the future evolution of the universe. However, as writer Goldsmith describes, the observations may be taking us in a completely different direction. In a lucid exposition of the data and the theory, Goldsmith presents the possibility that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, and that a famous constant of general relativity, once thought to be identically zero, may have a value nearer to one. The subject is difficult and the arguments subtle, yet the book is so well written that the lay reader will be able to achieve an understanding of the issues and of the profound philosophical implications arising from them. It is early in the revolution, as Goldsmith points out, and astronomers continue to weigh the evidence, but the book is a thoughtful and balanced introduction to these fascinating ideas. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. D. E. Hogg; National Radio Astronomy Observatory